All posts by Rob Darnell

Goodbye, José Valverde

Well, ouch. I was really hoping to see José Valverde back with Detroit, at least for one more season or what’s left of this season. But the word came in today. Yesterday Valverde met with the team officials and it was decided that he would be released from his contract. All on good terms, no hard feelings, it sounds like. So, this means Valverde is no longer with the Tigers or their Triple-A league, where he had been the last couple months.

No one knows what he plans to do now, but he is at that age where he could be retiring from baseball and I imagine that’s what he will do. Though he might be able to sign with another team. We’ll just have to see what he does.

He’ll be missed. He was a great closer.

Tigers in Cleveland

Man, I love baseball. During baseball season, there’s a game on almost every day and it can get boring after so many games. But I continue to have the TV on the Tigers when they’re playing. Tonight’s game was another game that reminded me why I love baseball so much.

I imagine the team had some unpleasant thoughts going through their heads today. Jhonny Peralta is off the roster for the next fifty games due to drug usage and I’m sure his teammates are not happy with him. Today was the first day of his suspension. Peralta is a valuable player. I hope he’s allowed to resume his career with the Tigers when his suspension ends. I feel a degree of disappointment, even a little betrayed. I hope he learned a lesson and that he never uses drugs again. I’m not going to call for his head or banishment, or whatever, because although I’m disappointed, I recognize that he is human and humans are flawed creatures who make mistakes. You who would throw stones at him ought to look at yourself. You’re probably not squeaky clean either.

Whether it had anything to do with Peralta’s suspension or not, the Tigers were having a tough game. Zeros for every inning while the Indians had a run in the second inning and another in the forth. I was worried that they would finish the game with nine zeros, and then Prince Fielder made it home in the ninth inning. But the score was still 1-2. The Tigers were not out of the woods until Alex Avila hit the home run, bringing the score to 4-2. Everything changed. The team was happily celebrating. If Peralta’s suspension wounded their spirits, it seemed they overcame their wounds in the ninth inning.

When the Tigers took the field in the bottom of the ninth, Joaquin Benoit kept the bases clean and my faith in him is restored.

It was a beautiful game.

That’s why I love baseball.

Papa Grande

I know, José Valverde is 35 years old, right about the age when professional athletics could be making plans for retirement. I know he had not done so well the last couple seasons and that he had spent most of this season in the Triple A League. He was called up for a stint with the Tigers when the closer they assigned to replace him couldn’t get the job done, but then they sent him back down when it later turned out that he didn’t have what they wanted.

But here’s the thing, I think they need him. I think they’ve needed him ever since they sent him down to work on his pitching. This is just my opinion and I’m far from being an expert, but it seems to me that every other closer Jim Leyland put on the mound had not done as well as Valverde had. Today Leyland went through three different pitchers in the ninth inning and all of them damn near blew the game. They’re lucky those fly balls didn’t leave the field. The White Sox might have caught up otherwise.

Valverde might never get his top game back, but I think he’s the best man for the job. I think they need to call him back up and keep him on until he either retires or they find a worthy replacement.

Matt Tuiasosopo

Who is that guy? I was asking myself this question when I saw the home run that put the Tigers ahead of the White Sox in the second inning of today’s game. It wasn’t Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Andy Dirks or Jhonny Peralta. In fact, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen this guy before. I don’t miss many games, but there are some players who I’m not familiar with. I spent a few minutes staring at the TV, trying to get a glimpse of the back of his jersey. The best I could get was a side angle that revealed the first three letters of his last name, Tui.

I got on the computer and went to Tigers.com to have a look at the team’s roster. There he was under the list of outfielders. Matt Tuiasosopo. But who is Matt Tuiasosopo? I googled his name to see what else I could find out about him.

Turns out he’d been playing in the minors for a while and was called up after an impressive Spring Training season this year, and I see he just came off of a fifteen day disability. That was a nice home run he hit today and I expect to see more of them. It’s too bad the Tigers didn’t win, but there’s plenty of more games to play before the season ends.

Kirk Gibson with the Arizona Diamondbacks

I keep checking the MLB Standings to make sure the Arizona Diamondbacks are still at the top the National League’s West division. Yep, they still are. They’ve been the leaders of their division, I think, since early in the season. But why do I care so much about the Diamondbacks, I’m a Tiger fan. I probably wouldn’t be thinking so much of them if Kirk Gibson wasn’t the team’s manager.

I’ve known for a few years now that Gibson was a bench coach for the Diamondbacks, but he was promoted to manager in 2010. I think that was the best decision the team’s overlords have made in a while. I understand that they had a string of unreliable managers before they finally promoted Gibson to the role.

Those of us old enough to remember the old Tiger Stadium, probably remember when the announcer would roll out “Kirrrrrk Gibson!” as Gibson stepped up to the plate. The man was a hero as a player, but he was also an excellent team leader. Remember the 1988 season when Gibson was playing for the Dodgers? The Dodgers did not do so well the season before, but when Gibson came to the team he inspired a winning attitude in the players. The Dodgers went on to win the World Series.

My faith in Gibson’s ability as a team manager is based on his season with the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks certainly have been looking good since he was promoted. In 2011 they won the Division Champion. I’d like to see them make it to the World Series this year. Of course, I want the Tigers to make it to the World Series, too., and they just might. The Tigers are at the top of the American League’s Central division. If the Diamondbacks and the Tigers meet in the World Series, I will be rooting for the Tigers, but it would be nice to have Kirk Gibson’s team there too.

Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow

untitled1I’ve been pacing back and forth for a while now, trying to come up with the right thing to say about Cory Doctorow‘s Pirate Cinema. While reading the book, I had one idea after another about what I would say, but now that I’m done I’m at loss. I suppose it has something to do with the ending, which left me feeling slightly numb. To Doctorow, I say: Jeez, man, you sure know how to twist a happy ending.

Set in the United Kingdom, in a time when Internet access is more of a necessity. But rich movie makers in Hollywood and thereabouts have the means to force the government to pass copyright laws that are ridiculous and unjust. When Trent McCauley’s family loses their Internet service due to him downloading copyright material, his father can’t do his job, his sister can’t study for her classes, and his mother can’t get her medicine and disability benefits, because everything is done over the Internet. No longer able to face his family, Trent leaves his hometown in northern England and resettles in London where he becomes a member of the Jammie-Dodgers, a group of homeless young people living in an abandoned pub in a rundown section of the city. There Trent gets involved in the fight against the unjust laws.

A Song for Lya, by George R. R. Martin

e4I finished reading A Song for Lya, by George R. R. Martin. This book had been in my bookcase for years, unread. I love Martin’s work, I just hadn’t gotten around to this book until recently. A Song for Lya is a collection of short stories and novellas that Martin wrote in the late 60s and early 70s. They are all very good. I have no complaints.

I also read these books by George R. R. Martin: Windhaven (Co-authored with Lisa Tuttle), A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, Shadow Twin (Co-authored with Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham).

 

The Song for Grandma

I posted this on Facebook after Grandma’s funeral in September, but now that I’m using my website again, I want it on my blog. The handwritten version of the song is in the purse she has with her. I think this song is the most important thing I’ve ever written.

It’s a chapter that will be hard to close.
Life won’t be the same as it was before.
Today we’ll bury a piece of our hearts,
But your touch will always linger.

We’ll have the memories,
And you’ll be with us in some sense.
But your laughter and your southern drawl
Will be something we’ll hear only in our hearts.

I will bear the weight of your casket,
My brother and I, and our cousins.
We’ll carry you from the hearse
To the place where Grandpa waits.

We’ll always have the memories,
And you’ll be with us in some sense.
But your laughter and your southern drawl
Will be something we’ll hear only in our hearts.

How I Plan to Make my Firepit

There’s been a lot of sticks and branches falling out of the trees and landing on my lawn. I have a barrel in the backyard for burning sticks and leaves, but some of the branches are too big for it. I could break them into smaller pieces, but I can’t fit a whole lot into the barrel at once and that means the process of burning yard waste is much slower than I would like.

For the last week or so, I’ve been thinking I ought to have a firepit. It would make the burning of yard waste easier. It would also be nice to have a fire once in a while, just to sit around and shoot the shit over beer.  When I first moved into this house, my mom had suggested a couple times that I make a firepit for the purpose of having people over and hanging out in the backyard at night. But I wasn’t for it at the time, partly because I didn’t feel like making a firepit and partly because I don’t have people over very often.

I’m still not likely to have people over much, but I think a firepit would be nice. However, if I’m going to make a firepit in my backyard, I want it to be something I like. I don’t want to just dig a little hole and surround it with rocks. What I want to do is build an outdoor fireplace in my backyard. Something a little more fancy than the usual hole-and-rock style firepits.

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Click picture for larger version.

Yesterday, after playing around with a tape measure and making crude sketches, I figured out exactly what I want to do. I will dig a hole twelve inches deep and make it perfectly square, with thirty-two inches on all sides. I will also make the floor of the hole flat. So, twelve inches deep and thirty-two inches on all sides, and a flat floor. That’s the first step.

Next, I want there to be a wall of concrete blocks surrounding the hole. This is as much for safety as it is for looks. A concrete wall should reduce the chances of the grass catching on fire. The wall will be twelve inches high. So, the wall twelve inches high surrounding the hole twelve inches deep, that means the overall depth of the pit will be two feet.

Home DepotI looked on HomeDepot.com. They’re selling concrete blocks sixteen inches long, eight inches wide and eight inches high for $0.98 each. These concrete blocks are perfect for what I have in mind and they cost a lot less than I was expecting. I’ll need ten of them. Two sides of the pit will have three of these concrete blocks. That will make the walls forty-eight inches long, which is sixteen inches too long. But then the other two sides of the pit will only have two concrete blocks each and everything will come together.

nullBut the concrete wall will only have a height of eight inches and I want it to be twelve inches. I also don’t want there to be square holes in the top of the wall where spider webs will start appearing. Home Depot is selling these solid blocks that are sixteen inches long, eight inches wide and four inches high for $1.04 each. I’ll need ten of them, to place on top of the first layer of concrete blocks. The concrete wall will have a height of twelve inches and there will be no holes except for the firepit itself.

So, that’s what I want to do.

For the Record, I’m Not Gay

I’m sure some people are relieved to hear that. In particular, my gay friends, who probably feel much better knowing my ugliness won’t be chasing after them anytime soon. Yes, I’m very supportive of the gay rights movement. I feel strongly that they should have the same rights as everyone else. It’s because I believe in the Constitution, Human Rights and God. All three say pretty much the same thing when they’re talking about the human race. It all boils down to Live and let live.

Sometimes I make jokes that probably give people the impression that I’m gay. There was a time when I would be offended if someone thought I was gay. There was also a time when I was not a supporter of gay rights. I was, in fact, against gay rights and gay people. But over the years I’ve moved away from that way of thinking.

These days I don’t even mind if gay men find me attractive, and they’re welcome to say so too. My reply will probably be a simple thanks.